Findings could take two months in Darien special ed complaint

State may take up to 60 days to make a ruling

The state has 60 calendar days to rule on the complaint filed by 18 Darien special education parents, who claim that the public schools violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA.

Every formal complaint is assigned an education consultant who will lead the investigation, according to the Special Education Bureau’s official resolution process. The current complaint was dated March 20, should therefore be concluded by Sunday, May 19, unless the complaint is withdrawn or the state extends the investigation. An extension might be granted if the parents and the district agree to sit down for mediation with a third party, or if there are “exceptional circumstances,” according to the department.

The parents are allowed to submit additional information regarding the allegations 15 days after a consultant verifies the receipt of the initial letter. In the original complaint, parents asked that the cease funding Darien’s special education program for violation of special education laws, and that the state take over managing special education in Darien.

A member of the state department’s staff will also confirm that the district has received the complaint, note its response to the potential violations and its ideas for resolving the situation. It is unclear whether the state has been in contact with Darien Public Schools at this time, although Kelly Donnelly, communication director for the education department, said the state has yet to file its response to the complaint.

““The State Department of Education is currently reviewing the petition filed by Darien parents and we expect that a response will be issued in the very near future,” Donnelly stated in an email to The Darien Times.

Darien will be required to provide all documentation relevant to the complaint as part of the investigation. An on-site investigation is also possible, at the consultant’s discretion. It is also unclear if there would be any administrators, such as Commissioner Stefan Pryor, accompanying the consultant to the district. Rumors that Pryor was leading the investigation in Darien have not been confirmed or denied by the state.

The decision from the education consultant would be final, meaning that neither side can appeal or ask for a review. If the state finds that Darien Public Schools violated the disabilities act, there will be a deadline set for rectifying the situation.

Additional reporting by David DesRoches.

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